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The Unintended Resonance of Song Lyrics

Recently, I've been listening over and over to Kimya Dawson's song "Tire Swing," which can be found on the Juno soundtrack. I've been enjoying all aspects of the song – the rhythm, the melody, the vocals, the texture – while I try to puzzle out the lyrics. The lyrics in the song are not as difficult to decipher as those in some of her other songs, but I suspect that one can find many shades of meaning hidden within.

For me, in particular, I find the following verse to resonate with something I am sure Dawson never intended:


Now I'm home for less than twenty-four hours
That's hardly time to take a shower
Hug my family and take your picture off the wall
Check my email write a song and make a few phone calls


Now, maybe my mind is only drifting in a certain direction because of the time of year. It was a year ago this past weekend that we held Mom's funeral, and I keep going over my memories from that period. But the lyrics of this verse remind me of a day a few months later, when I managed to squeeze out a tiny amount of time to visit the house where I grew up a final time. My younger brother Josh and I were doing another check of the house to clear out the possessions that we wanted to rescue before we sold the place. I'm very grateful to Josh that he found the time to return to the house a few more times and supervise the final pickup of our stuff, but that particular day was my own last day in the house I grew up in. And the lyrics of "Tire Swing" seem to echo that day for me.

Why? Because I remember being on the train to New York City, and realizing that I would literally have less than twenty-four hours to take care of everything. Because I find myself missing the shower in the bathroom. Because we rescued (I hope) all the family photos, and we took off the wall a picture that Mom had painted as a little girl, a picture that now hangs in my apartment. Because while at the house, I'm sure I made a few phone calls, even if I didn't have my computer with me to check email.

(Okay, so I didn't write a song. But you wouldn't have expected me to, now would you?)

So, for all those reasons, "Tire Swing" resonates. And I'm sure Dawson would find my resonance with her song orthogonal to her own.

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December 2016

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